Seven out of 10 Canadians are afraid to go to the hospital for fear of becoming infected by a superbug, a new poll reveals.

The 2016 Canadian Healthcare Worry Index also found that six out of 10 Canadians worry they could be the victim of medical error, such as being given the wrong medication or having surgery on the wrong body part.

The results of the Ipsos Reid poll were released Monday by HeathCareCAN and the Canadian College of Healthcare Leaders (CCHL) at the National Health Leadership Conference, which is the largest national gathering of health system decision-makers in Canada.

The conference is bringing together 750 healthcare leaders from across the country to debate what the biggest issues currently facing Canada’s health care system are, and what can be done to resolve them.

George Weber, the president and CEO of the Royal Hospital of Ottawa and acting chair for HealthcareCAN, says it’s interesting that so many Canadians are worried about medical errors and going to the hospital.

“I think this is a perception; it is not a reality, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed by the system coast to coast,” he told CTV News Channel from Ottawa.

Weber notes that, along with the hospital worries, 60 per cent of Canadians are also concerned about falling through the cracks in the health care system.

“What also struck me is that informal caregivers and seniors -- particularly with chronic disease -- are worried that as they age about maintaining reasonable quality of life. They are also worried that services will be available, either at home or in long-term care facilities,” he said.

As well, while 80 per cent of Canadians are proud of our country’s health care system, 64 per cent are also worried that Canada is falling behind other countries because we are not investing enough in innovation.

The poll found that worries about hospital-acquired infections, falling through the cracks, and Canada falling behind increases with age and decreases with income.

Bill Tholl, the president and CEO of HealthcareCAN, said Canadians are worried we’re falling behind under the weight of new challenges facing the health system.

“Some of these challenges are biologic, such as the emergence of new generations of antibiotic resistant infections – ‘superbugs’ that we will have no way to treat. Others are jurisdictional, such as our dysfunctional pattern of ‘reinventing the wheel’ from community to community,’ he said in a statement.